Beloved Mother & Grandmother, 93
Longtime Cranford resident Thelma Ruth Makatenas, 93, passed away peacefully on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at St. Peter’s Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ surrounded by her loving family. Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend the viewing on Thursday, Feb. 15 from 4 to 8 pm and the funeral service on Friday, Feb. 16 at 11 am at Gleason Funeral Home, 1360 Hamilton St., Somerset.
Born in Somerville, MA as an only child of Peter and Anna Malinauskas, Thelma spent her early years in Arlington, MA, and later moved to Penfield, NY, where she graduated from high school. During WWII, she corresponded with several servicemen to keep up their morale. She grew especially fond of Army machinist Al Makatenas; they met in person after the war, fell in love and married. They settled in Cranford, where they lived for more than 50 years. They were both very proud of their Lithuanian heritage. This past June, Thelma and Al celebrated the wonderful milestone of their 70th anniversary – it was clear how much they loved each other.
While Thelma held several secretarial and office positions early in her adult life, she primarily was a stay-at-home mom devoted to her family. She loved spending time with her children and grandchildren. She was kind and inviting, and often made friends after casual conversations in line at stores. An excellent cook and baker, Thelma was known for her delicious cakes made from scratch. She also enjoyed gardening and watching birds in her backyard birdbath. A Scrabble aficionado, Thelma played until just weeks before her passing.
In the 1970’s, Thelma and Al campaigned against smoking in public places, and were charter members of GASP, Group Against Smoking Pollution. They were members for 40 years.
Thelma’s trademark was her love of purple. Known as the “lavender lady,” she donned many hues from her hat to her sneakers. Her living room and bedroom were even painted bright lavender.
She had a real talent for poetry, and she wrote poems for family and friends celebrating milestone birthdays and other special occasions.
Thelma was predeceased by Albert, her husband of 70 years, and leaves behind her son and daughter-in-law Neil and Mary Ann Makatenas; daughter and son-in-law Sharon and Ken Szabo; granddaughters Diane Leypoldt and her husband Don and Emily Buschmeier and her husband Andy, and grandsons Barret and Karl Makatenas.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to New City Kids, www.newcitykids.org (240 Fairmount Ave., Jersey City, NJ 07306), a dynamic ministry helping youth achieve academically, develop as leaders, and learn about God. Contributions will support Internships for low-income, at-risk high school students, to set them on the path towards higher education and break the cycle of poverty. Please state "In memory of Thelma Makatenas" in the memo line.